We SUPPORT and ENDORSE JOHN EDWARDS, HILLARY CLINTON , Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Dennis Kucinich, Tom Vilsack, Bill Richardson, Chris Dodd, John Kerry , Wesley Clark and their SUPPORTERS AND OTHER DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES




Thursday, January 18, 2007

One Year From Caucus, Iowa Campaign Under Way

One Year From Caucus, Iowa Campaign Under Way
DES MOINES, Iowa, January 17, 2007 - Many Iowa Democrats believe that Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., can do very well in that state's crucial caucuses almost exactly one year from now.
The freshman senator says he will make his formal announcement on whether he will run for president in 2008 on Feb. 10. And every signal from the Obama camp indicates he will run for the White House. Already, he has taken the first step, announcing on his Web site Tuesday that he is creating a presidential exploratory committee.
"I certainly didn't expect to find myself in this position a year ago," Obama said on the site.
Emergence Surprises Political Rivals
Obama's emergence as a player in this race has surprised other Democratic presidential hopefuls, such as former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards, who appeared last summer to be the early front-runner in Iowa.
Obama got a boost from a late December poll at a Des Moines TV station KCCI-TV. The telephone poll asked Iowa Democrats their most likely choice in the caucuses. Obama tied with Edwards at 22 percent.
Former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack placed third at 12 percent. New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton was close behind with 10 percent, a slight disappointment to some of her supporters.
The poll also showed that, regardless of party, among all voters questioned, Obama led three Republican hopefuls: Sen. John McCain, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.
Strong Competition
That's all good news, of course, for Obama. If he runs, though, he will have to put together a strong campaign staff in this state.
And he could face formidable organizations from other top finishers in the poll. Edwards and Vilsack are expected to mount strong campaigns in Iowa, and so is Clinton who, although she has not announced she will run, has begun building support in Iowa.
Edwards is well known in Iowa; he came in second behind Sen. John Kerry in the 2004 caucuses. Edwards also seems to have solid backing from labor.
Both Edwards and Kerry came from behind in the final days of the '04 Iowa campaign to move ahead of former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean. Kerry, who has not announced whether he will make another presidential run, scored poorly in the TV station's poll.
Only 5 percent backed Kerry, who was outpointed by former Vice President Al Gore with 7 percent.
Vilsack was widely regarded as a successful governor, and obviously has no shortage of savvy political supporters to help him. That doesn't guarantee success, though.
"Sometimes it's toughest to run where people know you best," KCCI-TV news director Dave Busiek said. "Governor Vilsack will have a lot of work to [do] here to get Iowans to think of him in terms of a presidential candidate."
And, anything short of a first- or second-place finish in his state's caucuses could seriously damage Vilsack's credibility as a serious contender elsewhere in the country.
Common Problems for Clinton and Obama
As for Clinton, despite her disappointing showing in the December poll, political pros say there is plenty of time for her to work on her murky image here.
Some Iowa Democrats are not sure where she really stands on Iraq. Others are unsure that she will do enough to protect jobs, including those on the farm.
A Democratic operative in eastern Iowa, who did not want to be named because he hoped to be hired by one of the contenders, told ABC News: "Hillary's problem is that, even after all those years at the White House and in the Senate, people are not sure who she really is. But she can overcome that. In Iowa, it's all about talking to voters in small groups. If Iowans like her, she will do fine. But she has got to put in plenty of time here."
The operative said Obama had much the same problem as Clinton.
"They like what they know about him," the operative said, "but they don't know much about him. He has to change that."
Clinton and Obama share another common problem. They both have day jobs in the U.S. Senate. Some of their potential opponents such as Vilsack and Edwards are former office holders. That makes it much easier to take whatever time is needed to campaign in Iowa and other states.
Early polls are often misleading, but Obama's supporters are heartened that he did so well against other contenders who have high name recognition.
On his trip to central Iowa in the fall, Obama was treated like a rock star.
But, as Busiek put it, "Polling numbers will evaporate in a hurry, if any candidate, including Obama, fails to build a good ground organization. Iowans expect to have their support earned, and it's getting a little late in the game to build a significant ground organization."
In Tuesday's announcement, Obama said, "For the next several weeks, I am going to talk with people around the country."
Some of those people, undoubtedly, will be Iowans.
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